The discovery of an alien race – the guardians – had been kept from the general population against the wishes of Constantine XIX. Not even half a year ascended to the throne, and yet the first citizen had advocated a well-informed public from which thousands of recruits could be gathered. However, he was overruled by the fearful members of the council, who not only requisitioned additional ships, but put to death the entire crew of the mining station contacted by the aliens. They kept this knowledge from Constantine, but when he found out…
A good shepherd always tends to his flock.
On May 19th, 2754 elements of five separate striker battalions marched into cities across all of Terra. Civilians looked fearfully from their houses into the streets, where black armored vehicles bearing the sigil of Constantine XIX rolled through the streets. Commanders used their loudspeakers to placate the populace; “Remain calm. In the name of God and His representative among men, Our Lord Constantine the Nineteenth, we call upon the faithful to follow the directions of the first citizen. You have been lied to, and more information will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please remain calm…” Similar messages were played across the global airwaves and, overwhelmingly, the 11 billion citizens and army remained on the sidelines.
The entire world held its’ breath as the majority of the council were arrested, along with their individual cabinets. A scant few managed to escape on a chartered freighter to regions unknown, unnoticed by all as their eyes turned solely to the bishopric in capital city.
“Faithful followers of the One True Church! Descendants of Constantine the Founder, you… have been lied to.” Constantine XIX was a tall, thin man in the mold of his forebears. A large nose and angular jaw only gave emphasis to the near constant scowl on his face. The man was dressed in the pristine white robes that befit his station as primus. Thin hands gripped the sides of the pulpit he was speaking from and at certain points clenched into closed fists, pounding the top for emphasis.
The princeps continued. “Earlier this year, elements of the Church’s Space Fleet were contacted by an alien race.” Though many both in the audience and across the world let out a collective gasp, he continued. “These ‘Guardians’ are ancient mechanical life-forms who appear extremely unfriendly. Members of the council were determined to keep this information from coming out. I was outvoted. I am sorry to say that I would have let the issue lie,” at this his jaw tightened perceptibly, “were it not for serious transgressions committed by my fellow council-members. Actions so horrifying, I had no choice but to act. The crew members of several mining stations in the outer reaches of the system were put to death shortly after first contact. On this day, I swear to the faithful, they shall account for their actions!” Off-stage, once members of the council were clad in dirty, soiled robes of prisoners. They sobbed their innocence before the world, and yet somehow not many were convinced.
“This ‘council’,” Constantine spat, “is nothing but a cowardly pack of degenerates – throwbacks to barbarians of the past. And yet, the laws of the church apply to all. Guardsman Tannenbaum!” Without missing a beat an officer wearing the princeps’ personal insignia stepped forward.
“Yes sir?” Guderian Tannenbaum was a solidly built man who had headed Constantine’s security detail since childhood. Few in all of Terra knew him quite like Guderian, and those that did could understand the ramrod straight demeanor which the guard carried himself. It was obvious that on this day, the princeps expected nothing less than perfection.
“What is the punishment for murder according to the Founder’s scroll of Schuler?”
Guderian spoke evenly, each word carefully enunciated to avoid any unbecoming mispronunciations. “The guilty party is to be affixed, spread eagle and upside-down betwixt two posts of steel. A cutting instrument is to be used in the division of the guilty evenly through first the groin, then the torso, then the neck.”
“I see.” In contrast to his professionally composed guard, Constantine’s voice was laden with contempt and disgust with the men before him. “Seeing as this council was so ‘democratic’, I think it would be most appropriate for the order of tonight’s proceedings to be left up to vote.” He smiled cruelly.
“Make your choices.” Without listening to their pleas of mercy, the princeps spun on his heel and left, quickly followed by Guderian.
(Author's Note: So basically, though the princeps is outraged at the decisions of the council, he recognizes an opportunity when it presents itself. The next few years will be interesting as Constantine solidifies his grip over Terra.)